Community Pride--"Pro Am" concert seats students alongside experienced musicians.
Thursday, March 18, 1999
Despite a drizzle of gloom outside, bright lights and tremendous sound filled the acoustically friendly interior of the Santa Catalina School auditorium last Sunday afternoon. The much anticipated annual Youth and Honors Orchestra "Pro Am" concert was at last underway. John Larry Granger conducted challenging programs for each, resulting in cheers and bravos from the large audience, and smiles on the faces of the musicians.
This annual event also brings a second orchestra of professionals together with the Honor Orchestra, creating a monster ensemble that packs the Santa Catalina stage and produces the biggest symphonic wallop currently available in the region. On this occasion, the greatest impacts occurred during a performance of Ferde Grofe''s vivaciously painted Grand Canyon Suite, a minor masterpiece of coloristic effects and visual imagery. The final moments of Sunrise, a long-drawn crescendo, were sonically overwhelming, as would be the case again during On the Trail and Cloudburst. In between, the music variously took on intimate refinement, sensual sway and jocular syncopation. The work explores the widest compass of its many instrumental choirs, and such exotic sounds as the cor anglais, bass clarinet, harp, piano and expanded percussion all got their moments to shine.
Previously, concertmaster Doug Liou, a junior at Salinas High School and pupil of Rochelle Walton, took the solo spotlight for the first movement of Lalo''s Symphonie espagnole, flashing moments of true virtuosity and allowing only the slightest suggestion of nerves. The tall, lanky Liou has picked up numerous performance credentials in his eight years with the instrument.
The junior Youth Orchestra opened the program with the traditional military march Meadowlands, a slightly reduced edition of Tchaikovsky''s Marche slave and a startlingly assured medley from Meredith Willson''s The Music Man, whose Seventy Six Trombones was reprised in encore.
From the podium, Granger called for appreciation of the many community music teachers who stood for applause, and for YMM executive Amy Woolf Crain who, as he put it, ''does the work of 12 people.'' The final YMM concert this season is set for May 16.
At the beginning of the ''60s, in the wake of the amazing Glenn Gould, the riveting pianist from Ottawa, New York discovered the equally fascinating Joao Carlos Martins. Like Gould, the spectacular pianist from Sao Paulo made a specialty of Bach, but played the German master with such flamboyance and indulgence as to guarantee a sharply divided public reaction.
Those of us who were seduced by Martins in the early ''60s collected his Bach recordings on LPs issued by Connoisseur Society label. The now legendary recordings document a brilliant but eccentric artistry, slow as molasses or fast as lightning, soft as a feather or loud as a carnival, but always sensational in its expressive range and overwhelming possession of the piano.
However, Martins'' career began to fall apart in the mid-''60s, due to known and mysterious factors. Among the knowns were a shoulder injury sustained during a soccer game in Central Park, a mugging which injured an arm, and a bout of repetitive-motion injury. Surgery and therapy restored him, but not entirely. Following an unsuccesful recital in 1970, and harsh review in the New York Times, Martins called it quits, and returned to Brazil.
He went to work as a bank teller. But Martins'' irrepressible talent soon reasserted itself. Within a year, he was on the bank''s board of directors. He increased his wealth in the stock market. He got involved in promoting boxers and rock concerts, and took ownership of a construction company. He entered politics and soon became a minister of culture, focusing on saving landmark buildings and raising money for the political campaigns of sympathetic candidates. All of this in only slightly more than six years, during which time he barely touched the piano.
Then, a telecast of pianist Antonio Barbosa set off a craving. Martins began to practice, and in 1979 he returned to Carnegie Hall and scored a triumph. He then resolved to record the complete keyboard works of Bach, and that project has occupied him, off and on, ever since. To date, and available on Concord Concerto label (a division of Concord Records which is best known for its great jazz catalog), are the Well Tempered Clavier, Goldberg Variations, Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook, the English and French suites, two- and three-part inventions, partitas, toccatas and concertos.
But one needn''t buy the collection untested. A sampler disc, The Essential Bach (Concord Concerto 42054), contains selections from the 15 volumes issued so far. The CD includes a reprint from Fanfare Magazine, an article by Raymond Tittle which contains an interview with Martins, certainly one of the late 20th-century''s most unusual and fascinating keyboard artists.
Marin Alsop, music director of the Cabrillo Music Festival, has just been named principal guest conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the city of London Sinfonia. Both appointments begin this September, and last for three years. Last month, Alsop conducted the RSNO in the UK premiere of Michael Torke''s Book of Proverbs. Alsop is also music director of Concordia (New York) and the Colorado Symphony (Denver). More information about Marin Alsop here.
Last Week''s Quiz In which of his works did Manuel de Falla quote Beethoven''s Fifth Symphony? Answer The Three-Cornered Hat, Suite 2.
This Week''s Quiz Scott Joplin titled many of his rags after flowers. Identify the one which is named for its behavior. cw
Matsuri Sh Taiko Saturday, 3 & 7pm. Taiko ensemble from Kyoto performs at World Theater, Sixth Street, CSU Monterey Bay. $18 (parking fee, $1.50 in quarters.) 582-3653.
Paris Troika Duo Saturday, 7:30pm. Cellist Aude Castagna, pianist Vlada Volkova play Beethoven, Schumann, Cassado, Piazzolla. San Carlos Cathedral, 500 Church St., Monterey. Free will donations. 656-9243.
Santa Cruz Baroque Festival Saturday, 8pm. Lutenist Hideki Yamaya, cellist Amy Brodo, organist Margaret Martin Kvamme play virtuoso works of J.S. Bach. Holy Cross Church, Mission Plaza, Santa Cruz. Ticket information, 457-9693.
Monterey Symphony Sunday, 3pm; Monday/Tuesday, 8pm. Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducts Marquez''s Danzon No. 2, Mozart''s Clarinet Concerto in A (featuring soloist Burt Hara), Tchaikovsky''s Symphony 6 in B Minor ''Pathetique.'' Sunday/Monday: Sunset Center, San Carlos Street & 9th Avenue, Carmel. Tuesday: Sherwood Hall, 940 N. Main St., Salinas. Reservations/ticket prices, 624-8511.
Juan Sanchez Trio Thursday, 5pm. The Juan Sanchez Trio, consisting of guitar, saxophone and percussion, performs "passionate classical Latin music" at the Monterey Museum of Art''s free Thursday concert series. Refreshments provided, Cloninger wine available for purchase. Civic Center museum location, 559 Pacific St., Monterey. Free. 372-5477.
Loyola Marymount Choir Friday, 8pm. The choir, recently returned from performing at Carnegie Hall, performs Brahms, Mendelssohn, Handel and Lauridsen. The Choir provided the backing vocals for a recent PBS Broadcast of Phantom. First Baptist Church, 1130 San Vincente Ave., Salinas. Free. 422-9872.